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Fear of Death and Drowning
2022, August, Issue 4
Suicide is something people talk about when they are thinking about death; and, I’ve cautioned people about such ideas. To incite violence against yourself is like a drowning person deciding to swim deeper into the dark depths of a vast ocean, rather than swimming to the surface, and the light. Committing suicide only creates more problems for yourself, and it makes it harder to find liberation from this eternal despair that is already a part of our experience.
Far better than this is to decide that you will awaken. This is like a drowning person deciding that being able to breathe again on the surface, in the light, is a good thing. When we have the courage to seek such love and light in our lives, everything becomes less heavy, more effortless, less of a struggle. We need to breathe if we can ever expect to not be at the mercy of this great ocean where we struggle. We need the light in order to see our circumstances clearly, and to go beyond without fear.
The problem with finding the courage necessary to awaken is that the only thing we have known from beginningless beginnings is this ocean, being constantly at the mercy of currents, storms and drowning. We’re accustomed to our misery. We protect it. We find comfort in our fear of death, and we avoid this notion of liberation, and of awakening.
Instead of deciding that we need to awaken, we aspire to find a moment of peace here or there, without any sort of commitment. We convince ourselves that this is what we need, instead of looking at just what is going on here. Finding a moment of peace won’t solve our problems, it just delays the inevitable. If we wish to become liberated from this ocean, we need to awaken. It’s the only way possible. This ocean is all the delusion, the attachments, as well as the aversion, that has been poisoning us forever. We find ourselves hating our lives, instead of embracing our real potentiality.
If we think about the analogy of a person drifting in a great ocean, it helps to evaluate our situation. How can it help if we find peace in that ocean, if we do not have the compassionate intention of being liberated from that ocean? Well, it will definitely help us to overcome fear when difficult situations arise; so, understand that I am not saying we should avoid learning to be peaceful. The main point here is that peace, or happiness for that matter, should not be the goal. These are fleeting, they are impermanent conditions that cannot liberate us from this ocean that is the cause of all our suffering. Awakening is the main point. Utilizing this ability to become peaceful in all circumstances will help us to awaken only if accompanied by Bodhicitta (compassionate desire to awaken) and an almost supernatural ability to persevere.
One thing that I learned very well in my Near Death Experience is that we have nothing to fear. We’re already awakened beings, even though we may have forgotten. This ocean of suffering is merely something we dream about. We already have infinite potentiality, even though we create tremendous problems for ourselves. If we wish to awaken, we simply need to look within, realistically see this situation, as it is—and stop making problems for ourselves!
We are not here to continue forever in this state of suffering. It is our own responsibility to awaken. We must take responsibility for our own condition, whether it be great suffering or experiencing a glimmer of awakening. To become liberated we must become our own driving force. No one can awaken for us. I could see this clearly when I was in the death bardo.
If we gather teachings from everywhere, seeking great masters, as well as sacred texts of the most profound, this is all very good. If we can do that, we will have the tools necessary for awakening, if we put this into practice, without ever giving up on practice. To control our own destiny, we must learn to have some mastery over our circumstances, which is like learning to swim. Being present, being courageous, being able to remain at peace in any circumstance, having an indestructible determination to awaken at any cost, these will have some use, some benefit if you want to awaken from this misery.
Don’t take my word for this. Sit, look within at the ineffable. You already have all that you need. It is important to be kind to yourself, developing compassion for yourself and others. You’ve been through a lot over these infinite lifetimes, within this cycle of destruction. Your Real Condition is that of infinite radiance. Discover that by discovering your own potentiality.